flat address space


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flat address space

(architecture)
The memory architecture in which any memory location can be selected from a single contiguous block by a single integer offset.

Almost all popular processors have a flat address space, but the Intel x86 family has a segmented address space. A flat address space greatly simplifies programming because of the simple correspondence between addresses (pointers) and integers.
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flat address space

Memory (RAM) that is addressed starting with 0, and each subsequent byte is referenced by the next sequential number (1, 2, 3, etc.). A 32-bit computer with a 32-bit address space treats all 4GB of memory (its maximum) as one contiguous segment. However, a 64-bit address register can hold a gigantic number, and 64-bit motherboards limit the maximum memory typically to 128GB (see binary values).

In contrast, the 16-bit mode (Real Mode) in an x86 PC uses a segmented address space. Memory is broken up into 64KB segments, and a segment register is always being adjusted to point to the base of the segment that is currently being addressed. See Real Mode and address register.
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